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Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1308: Liability of Voluntary Administrator Collecting Assets

A voluntary administrator is a person appointed by the Surrogate’s Court to perform the tasks involved with administering a small estate. Just like an executor or estate administrator in probate administration, a voluntary administrator has a relationship of trust with respect to the beneficiaries and heirs. This means that in performing the duties of administering the estate, the voluntary administrator must do what is in the best interests of the beneficiaries and heirs and not what is in his own best interest. Failure to follow this rule may result in liability to the administrator, and possibly criminal prosecution. To learn more about the rules related to the administration of small estates, including the requirements of serving as a voluntary administrator as described in Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1308, Liability of voluntary administrator collecting assets, contact an experienced New York estate planning lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Related statutory provisions
  1. Kinds of property: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1302
  2. Summary procedure: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1304
Fiduciary responsibility of an administrator

Voluntary administration is an alternative to probate administration that is available in cases where the assets in the estate have a value of less than $30,000. Real estate typically cannot be part of voluntary administration. If you are wondering whether an estate of a loved one qualifies for voluntary administration, an experienced New York estate planning lawyer can help you understand the requirements, and can also help your filed the necessary paperwork.

Liability of voluntary administrator collecting assets

Just like an executor or estate administrator, a voluntary administrator is a fiduciary with respect to the beneficiaries and heirs. This means that the voluntary administrator must make decisions with respect to estate property that are in the best interests of the beneficiaries or heirs, and that he (or she) should not put his own interests first. For example, if a voluntary administrator knowingly makes a false affidavit in order to obtain property from the estate of the decedent, the administrator would have breached his fiduciary duty.

If the voluntary administrator breaches his duty, he must answer to all people involved including beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors. Furthermore, the administrator may face both civil and criminal liability. If your or a voluntary administrator, contact an experienced estate planning lawyer in New York to ensure that you understand the rules related to your duties as a fiduciary.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1308. Liability of voluntary administrator collecting assets
  1. A voluntary administrator shall be answerable and accountable to all persons including creditors and distributees of the decedent, beneficiaries named in the will filed with the affidavit and to any fiduciary thereafter appointed, aggrieved by his administration of the decedent's estate under this article, in the same manner as now provided by this act concerning a fiduciary.
  2. A voluntary administrator or other person who wilfully and knowingly makes a false affidavit in order to obtain personal property of the decedent as provided in this article, is subject to prosecution for perjury and upon conviction shall be punishable as provided by law in relation to such crime.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

While voluntary administration may not involve the same amount of time and complexity as probate administration, the voluntary administrator can face liability for problems that develop. To ensure that your legal rights are protected, contact an experienced estate planning attorney serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have decades of experience successfully representing clients in a variety of estate and probate matters, including matters related to liability of administrators and estate litigation. If you have concerns related to estate administration, including questions related to voluntary administration such as the requirements of New York SPCA section 1308, Liability of voluntary administrator collecting assets, contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Long Island, Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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